Pressed Jewelry and Apparel’s store on Grand Avenue began as a dream.
Now, with the 319 Grand Avenue store’s grand opening tomorrow from 4 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., that dream is coming true.
The dream began about two years ago when Kristen and Eric Meeter began taking nightly walks on Grand Avenue in Spencer, looking at every building – for sale, for lease and even already occupied.
They wondered: Could a brick and mortar store work for Pressed?
“We would walk down Grand, in the nice weather, we would walk down Grand for a nightly walk,” Kristen said. “Talk about buildings, dream and wish and wonder. I think we thought about probably every space in downtown.”
Kristen started Pressed as a home-based business in 2015, creating handcrafted jewelry. Pressed first operated from its own website, Etsy and at travel shows. The business has always sold jewelry with faith, Midwest and inspirational themes. The apparel is a recent product line expansion.
A vacation, a vision
Pressed’s mission is to create products that tell stories for its creators and to their customers. Some of Pressed Jewelry and Apparel’s items are created to help anchor hearts and minds in a difficult or “pressing” time, while others are designed to remind of the blessings of home and family.
“So there’s a really strong heart connection to our products,” Kristen said. “We love seeing that connection when our customers read our products. Someone will see a quote on a necklace or read a shirt or something and it sparks a story or a conversation and we get to share in each others’ lives and we just have had so many beautiful moments of connection with our customers.”
When Pressed was about a year old, Kristen and Eric Meeter went on a family vacation to Michigan, where they visited a store that sparked the dream. That inspired them, leading them to write down their goals and create a vision for the future of the business.
“I think that was the first time both of us were like, wow, it would be kind of neat to own a store,” Eric said. “We took that home with us.”
“Dared to dream a little,” Kristen said of the process and the walks.
“Prayed over this dream a lot,” Eric added.
On their nightly walks, they considered every building they saw as a possible future home for Pressed.
“We even reached out to people and said, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about selling your building?’” Kristen said. “We really looked at every building down here and we did so much dreaming before we even got the building that we had kicked the idea around enough that we kind of knew coming in what we wanted and what we needed.”
In January of this year, the search for a downtown store became serious. They decided they’d have a store by the end of the year.
“We went to Nancy Naeve and just started dreaming with her a little bit,” Eric said.
Naeve, the Spencer Main Street Executive Director, had already known about the Meeters and Pressed. She first learned of the business two years ago at a handmades event at Gary’s on the River.
“The more I would run into them, I would say, ‘Man, what I wouldn’t do to get you in a storefront on Grand,’ because I just think they just get it,” Naeve said. “They get the community, they love Spencer, they get the marketing. I just think they have a unique skill set that it’s a niche that I think we’re missing.”
When the Meeters reached out to her about a storefront, Naeve helped them look at buildings and identify potential partners.
The Meeters also visited with Michael Wampler at the Iowa Lakes Community College’s Small Business Development Center for advice.
Kristen and Eric, following Naeve’s and Wampler’s advice, put together a video explaining their dream for Pressed.
Naeve sent that video to her contacts, which resulted in Northwest Bank calling the Meeters to ask how they could help.
“That was such a cool contact point that they were willing to reach out to us,” Eric said. “Instead of us having to hunt. And they have been absolutely wonderful to work with.”
The banking process began around March or April, Eric said, with building tours soon after.
The Meeters ended up touring three buildings. The first space they toured is now the home of the Pressed Studio and Store.
“This was the first of those three that we ended up touring,” Eric said. “And everything pointed at this one. We caught a vision for it.”
They closed in early July and renovations began.
“We really hit the ground running in January and eight months later had a building,” Eric said. “Again, a lot of that goes back to us having two years of dreaming.”
The Meeters also credited local support for how quickly the dream moved along.
“We’ve commented so many times that we wonder if this could have happened the way it did if we lived in any other town because there has been so much local support, whether from customers or from the city side,” Kristen said. “Nancy’s side of things and the bank. A lot of things have come together to make this happen.”
As soon as word got out around town, excitement followed.
Community waits to see inside
With the Pressed Studio and Store set to open tomorrow, many in Spencer are eager to visit.
Eric and Kristen commented that while renovations have been underway since buying the building earlier this year, some people already have poked their heads in out of curiosity.
Now that the interior is finished, people will see a store that looks like no other in Spencer.
Kristen describes the look as “rustic-luxe.” She drew inspiration from other retail stores in larger cities, as well as ideas found on Pinterest and Instagram.
“We like a lot of different design elements,” Kristen said. “There’s a little bit of rustic, there’s a little bit of clean-modern, a little bit of industrial. There’s a little bit of mid-century modern. And hopefully it all comes together.”
Pressed also will carry other products not made in house, but still carefully selected. Many of the items are made in Iowa, but not all.
“If we’re going to have an item in our store that’s not made by us, it’s either going to be handcrafted preferably by somebody in the Midwest – we love supporting businesses in the Midwest – but handcrafted somewhere, or have an inspirational theme behind it, or a product that gives back,” Kristen said. “And that has really become a cool element of modern commerce. You’ll see more give-back brands popping up and we love supporting those.”
A ‘snowball effect’
Needless to say, Spencer is excited for what is probably the most ambitious Grand Avenue project in several years.
Naeve said the town and other retailers are eager for Pressed to open because it’s an example of people investing in the community.
“They did it because they believe in this community and want to invest in this community and want to stay in this community,” she said. “They’re God-fearing people that I think are great examples of young entrepreneurs and I think by them buying a building – and they wanted to buy because they’re investing – and I think by having this young couple be entrepreneurs, it’s only going to create more of a great snowball effect that others can say, ‘Oh, they did it. I wan to do it, too.’”
Kristen said the community has been “more excited than we’re ready for.”
“We have really enjoyed the overwhelming encouragement we have received,” Eric said. “I think some of that is us. I think some of that is the product we’re bringing to town and the space that we have created for it, but I also think some of that just speaks to the desperate need in our area for something new and retail – a rebirth of retail, if you would. People are just excited from something new moving back into downtown.”
They’ve gotten a lot of people from two and even three hours away saying they’re eager to see the store.
Certainly that reach in itself is something for all of Spencer to support.
Pressed Jewelry’s regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Feature photo: Kristen and Eric Meeter stand outside the new Pressed Studio and Store at 319 North Grand Avenue in Spencer.